House panel still struggles to get Steve Bannon to answer questions in Russia inquiry

WASHINGTON — Former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon remained tight-lipped during a House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday, repeatedly refusing to answer some questions despite receiving a congressional subpoena for the panel’s Russia inquiry.

“I am not authorized to answer that question,” Bannon said dozens of times, according to two sources with knowledge of the closed-door hearing who were not authorized to speak publicly.

It was Bannon’s second appearance before the House committee, and his response showed ongoing coordination between Bannon and the White House despite his estrangement with President Donald Trump.

Bannon was fired last August and had a public falling-out with Trump in January after his criticism of Trump’s eldest son, son-in-law and other top aides was published in the book “Fire and Fury.”

— Los Angeles Times

Judge may seek testimony from secretary of Defense to sort out USS Cole stalemate

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — The military judge in the USS Cole bombing trial said Thursday he was considering calling Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to testify to help solve a stalemate over the resignations of key lawyers in the death-penalty case.

Air Force Col. Vance Spath, the judge who ordered a Marine brigadier general to 21 days confinement for contempt of court, said at the conclusion of a four-day session that he might want to ask Mattis, a retired Marine general, what he was doing about “a rogue defense organization” at the war court.

At issue is a decision by the Chief Defense Counsel, Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, to release the veteran capital-case defender and two Pentagon-paid civilian attorneys from defending Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the October 2000 USS Cole bombing. Seventeen U.S. sailors died.

— Miami Herald

Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer shot 6 times, prosecutors allege as suspect held without bail

CHICAGO — Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer was shot six times in the head, neck, torso, back and wrist, Cook County prosecutors alleged Thursday as Shomari Legghette, his hands and feet shackled, made his first appearance on murder and other charges in a courtroom packed with dozens of officers.

Prosecutors revealed that three civilian witnesses identified Legghette in a police lineup as the man who struggled with Bauer at the top of a stairwell outside the Thompson Center in the Loop. Surveillance video also captured the struggle at the top of the stairs, they said.

Legghette’s right hand and coat tested positive for the presence of gunshot residue, evidence he fired a gun, prosecutors said.

Judge Mary Marubio ordered that Legghette, a four-time felon, be ordered held without bail, saying he “poses a real and present threat to the physical safety of the community.”

— Chicago Tribune

Cyril Ramaphosa elected as South Africa’s new president

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Millionaire ex-businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, elected South Africa’s new president in a parliamentary vote Thursday, comes to power facing the same entrenched problems that have stumped the governing African National Congress in nearly 24 years in power: gaping inequality, failing education and health systems and enduring unemployment.

Ramaphosa told parliament he intended to address corruption and strengthen South Africa’s state-owned enterprises. He also vowed to work to improve the lives of South Africans.

“What we have always said is that we will improve the lives of our people on an ongoing basis, and that is what we have been doing since 1994. The lives of our people have been improving on an ongoing basis. All of us should work to improve the lives of our people and take their lives to a higher level,” he told opposition parties in parliament.

“South Africa must come first in everything that we all do,” he said, adding he would do his best not to disappoint his countrymen.

— Los Angeles Times